Sitting in the middle of a grassy field in downtown Chicago, we watched black clouds roll in behind the looming skyscrapers and darken Lollapalooza 2012’s festival grounds. It was mid-day Saturday and our briefly wonderful Neon Indian experience came to an abrupt halt as an announcement blasted from the PA system: “A potentially dangerous storm is headed this way. We are evacuating Grant Park. Please calmly make your way to the nearest exit and stay away from trees.”
Would this really be the end? The first thing that came to our mind was the brilliance of the previous day - animated and slightly bizarre electronic-rap sounds of Die Antwoord, M83’s hypnotic vibrations, and The Black Keys' soulful howls and stimulating guitar riffs. It couldn’t be over, it just couldn’t. Soon enough we found ourselves amongst the soon-to-be-drenched festivalgoers stumbling through Chicago’s streets, littered with eco-friendly "water boxes" and crushed Bud Light cans, searching for shelter.
How this catastrophe came about, we have no idea, because the day began at a beautiful 80-degrees. When we got to the festival in the early afternoon to see Chicago native rapper Chief Keef perform, there were only blue skies. We stood in a sea of metal mouthed kids smoking weed, yelling lyrics to his hit song "I Don't Like" right along with them.We even caught the end of L.A.'s very own ska-surf band, FIDLAR where we happily joined a dance train that slunk its way through the crowd. We then made it over to a high-octane performance by Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit, before the sky showed even a hint of gray.
But alas, with the storm upon us - thunder, lightning, hail - it seemed we were doomed. Yet, all was back to normal in a few short hours and Lollapalooza officially re-opened on Saturday evening, just in time to see Washed Out, dance in the fresh mud pits at Bloc Party, and fall head over heels for Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, who stopped the show to declare, “I love you motherfuckers…we love you.” Needless to say, it was one hell of a day.
The final day truly felt like the “morning after”— a Lollapalooza hangover, if you will. Carefully inching through the sunglass-wearing, Advil-popping crowds, we made our way to Brooklyn-based lo-fi rock band Oberhofer. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to dance on somewhat dry ground, as the rest of the festival flew by with melodious sounds from the likes of like Little Dragon, Toro y Moi, and Florence + The Machine. Finally, Jack White, musical genius that he is, rocked our world with his incredible stage presence, closing the festival with a kick-ass version of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
Speechless and only half-deaf, we left one destroyed Grant Park on Sunday night with Lollapalooza 2012 permanently etched into our memories and stained on our clothes.